In April 2007, the Council of Graduate Schools published a report entitled Graduate Education: The Backbone of American Competitiveness and Innovation and declared that “we can no longer take for granted America’s continued leadership in innovation and competitiveness” (p. 1). About the same time, the higher administration at NAU decided that the growth in graduate education would benefit from increased attention. Provost Grobsmith announced that graduate college duties would be separated from the vice provost for research position and a graduate dean hired for the first time. Therein begins my story.
Job description and charge in hand, I forged ahead into unchartered waters. The course was exciting, challenging, and daunting. With considerable support from various university offices and the excellent Graduate College staff, we are proud to report significant progress on a number of fronts:
- GSO: The Graduate Student Organization (GSO) was dormant for many years, and I sought to revive this group. Some fine leaders emerged, and they worked hard to revitalize the organization and garner representation from the 29 departments with graduate programs. At last count, 22 have voting representatives. One goal tackled by GSO was obtaining support for graduate student travel to conferences from ASNAU and other offices. April 1 was the deadline for the first award, and the executive committee received more than 55 proposals. Way to go, GSO!
- GRADUATE COORDINATORS: The graduate coordinators, the backbone of graduate education at NAU, were the next group to get going. They were glad to come together and express their needs in terms of new and ongoing training and support. We were able to provide focused workshops and individual/program support this year and have many more plans for the future.
- GTAs: The graduate teaching assistants, a group of approximately 300 with considerable impact on undergraduate education at NAU, also received special attention thanks to the work of the Office of Faculty Development. We offered many training seminars, including interactions with internationally recognized speakers. The culmination of this year’s training series will be the recognition of two outstanding teaching assistants who will be named later this month. Each will receive a cash prize of $1,000.
- TUITION: Financial assistance for graduate students is always at the top of any graduate dean’s list. Building on the work of my predecessors, increasing tuition remission for graduate assistants continued to be the Graduate College's highest priority. On March 27, President Haegar announced that tuition remission for GAs will increase from 50 percent to 75 percent for in-state tuition beginning fall 2008. Thank you, President Haegar!
- COMMUNICATIONS AND UGC: Other notable goals accomplished include the e-newsletter that you are reading right now; general improvements to our web site; and the work of the University Graduate Committee, from curriculum approvals to drafting a Graduate College mission statement and goals to updating/changing policies.
- "CHANGING OF THE GUARD": Finally, we will miss Pat Baron, who retired after many years of outstanding service and important contributions to graduate education. We wish to extend a warm welcome to Evie Garcia, our new associate dean, who will begin work in June 2008.
I would be remiss as graduate dean if I did not end my reflections by talking about giving. If you are an alumna or alumnus, or a friend of the university, please remember that you have the opportunity to become a part of graduate education at the university by making a gift to fellowships, scholarships, or specific programs that enrich the graduate experience of our students. They need you just as we need them, their talent, and their dedication to advanced learning and research endeavors. The Office of Advancement has created specific categories that one might consider when giving, and I will always be willing to talk to you about our students, programs, and opportunities for involvement.
I hope you enjoy reading the many sections and feature articles within this e-newsletter. I look forward to continuing this journey into the next academic year.